This article was originally published by Debra Bruce at Raising the Bar Law Practice Management Thoughts and Tips on March 20, 2012. Debra is President of Lawyer-Coach LLC. She draws on her extensive legal experience, as well as a degree in Psychology and well over 500 hours in training as a professional coach, to help lawyers improve their management skills, increase productivity and bring in more business.
This week I had the privilege of participating in the virtual professionals round table discussion sponsored by The Paralegal Mentor. After hearing each other’s stories as to how we ended up as virtual professionals in the legal services industry, the discussion quickly turned to technology.
The very next day Law Technology News published the article Virtual Paralegals Move Legal Work Online. LTN’s news editor Brendan McKenna covered the bases by gathering information from at least 9 different paralegals, myself included, concerning the definition of virtual paralegal, inspiration for starting a virtual paralegal business, and the technology used. McKenna even registers the preference of several paralegals to be described as freelance rather than virtual.
Participation in both of these discussions with at least 12 other virtual paralegal professionals led me to the following conclusions:
- A top-notch virtual paralegal should have technology options in her toolbox.
- There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to customizing a technology support package for a virtual paralegal partnership. Different attorneys, different practice areas, different clients, and different cases require different tools.
- The possible combinations of technology tools are endless, and those possibilities change daily.
- The virtual paralegal should be a knowledgeable consultant who presents options and insists that the attorney be part of that decision-making process. These are not always easy decisions. An attorney depends on the virtual paralegal for experience and expertise in this area.
- The attorney may not review every available feature, but he should have a firm grasp of what tools are being used.
- The virtual paralegal should stay abreast of software updates and alert the attorney when security weaknesses are discovered by the software manufacturer. Together a decision can be made as to whether any changes are required.
Technology Toolbox: a few of our favorite things
Document and Word Processing
Legal Practice Management (Online)
Legal Brief Tools
Calendars and Deadlines
Deadline and Filing Calculator